Saturday, December 31, 2011

Prophet Mohammad’s letter to the Christians....


In 628 C.E. Prophet Muhammad (s) granted a Charter of Privileges to the monks of St. Catherine Monastery in Mt. Sinai. It consisted of several clauses covering all aspects of human rights including such topics as the protection of Christians, freedom of worship and movement, freedom to appoint their own judges and to own and maintain their property, exemption from military service, and the right to protection in war.

An English translation of that document is presented below.

This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them.
Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them.
No compulsion is to be on them.
Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries.
No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses.
Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate.
No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight.
The Muslims are to fight for them.
If a female Christian is
married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray.
Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants.
No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world)....

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Syrian special intelligence services: Epic fail and utter corruption....

Syrian special intelligence services: Epic fail and utter corruption....

One of the true revelations of the Arab spring in Syria is the extreme inefficiency of its special services. In the past, legends about the power of Syrian special services were known far beyond the country's borders. The reason to write about them appeared again after the double terrorist attack, carried out in Damascus on December 23, near the headquarters of local special services. Car bombs killed dozens of people, including many workers and security officers.

It is an open secret that there are several types of special services in Syria, the Mukhabarat, the military intelligence, is the most important one of them. It would seem that the situation is under their control. In Syria, there is a grim joke, which says that every other Syrian national is a secret agent. However, the Syrian "knights of the cloak and dagger" were completely inconsistent in resisting the current attacks against the regime. Who else is supposed to prevent the attacks before they happen?

There are legends about the widespread corruption inside the special services of the country. However, it is fair to say that when the author of this article was staying in Aleppo and decided to make a night trip "without armed escort," the next day he received a fairly detailed report on where he was, how much money he spent and for which purposes. I was given a clear hint that the "big brother was watching over me."

It appears that I had a chance to experience the work of local security officers. But there is nothing supernatural there. Every taxi driver and every restaurant owner serve for Syrian special services, because they get to meet many people as they work. It's a piece of cake for them to keep tabs on foreigners, who are not numerous in today's Syria at all.

However, for some reason, they fail to detect the real enemies of the regime. It is not their first failure in Damascus. Suffice it to say that the Syrian intelligence services failed to prevent all large plots (Dera'a, Jisr al-Shougour, Der az-Zor, Hama, Lattakia, Homs).

Ali Salim Assad, one of the leaders of the Syrian National Committee, shared his views about the situation in Syria with Pravda.Ru.

"The Syrian security forces have shown the worst of them. The chief of state security of Homs and 90 percent of his employees have been arrested. It turns out that he helped the bandits and, apparently, he did it for money. Unfortunately, the system is rotten, corruption is everywhere. In fact, security agencies became a mafia structure, and it happened because they have been holding limitless power in their hands.

The things that happened in Dera'a and Homs, are not one-off events. Wherever there were armed uprisings, treason was there in varying degree. How could more than a hundred people get in a deadly trap in Jisr al-Shougour? There was a traitor among the state security employees, who delivered an unspoken order to the gunmen. The order, which was in effect before the beginning of summer, banned the use of weapons against those who take to the streets.

The power still hoped that the outbreak could be suppressed without much bloodshed, and that the situation would be resolved without excessive use of force. And a crowd of several hundreds of people, who believed in their own impunity, broke into the building occupied by security forces and brutally massacred the captured people. Such traitors could be found everywhere.

To remedy this situation, it is necessary to radically reform the system and clean it from similar elements. This is a major problem for the president, and he needs to make a willful decision for it.

The country found itself helpless in its hour of need. The security system was defunct. Its omnipotence, as it experience showed, was a myth, inspired by repressions and terror of the past.

I must say that the problems in this most important sphere of the country appeared before too. For example, in 2008, Hezbollah's second most important man, Imad F. MOUGHNIEH, was killed in Damascus. He was the military chief of the organization. He and his whereabouts were classified. He seemed to be invincible, because very few people knew him by sight. However, he was assassinated by the barbaric monster Asef SHAWKAT and his military intelligence goons, on behalf of CIA/MOSSAD/DGSE creeps..... And this happened in a specially protected area, which was controlled by Syrian intelligence services....

The Mukhabarat launched investigation and arrested many "sleepers" who cooperated with intelligence agencies of Saudi Arabia and the infamous Prince Sultan, who directed Riyadh's covert operations."

To this we must add that in some cases (such as in Dera'a), it is the activities of special services that gave rise to people's unrest. The riots sparked armed clashes across the country. The mutiny in Dera'a on March 15 started after state security services detained the boys, who spray-painted anti-governmental slogans on walls.

Local elders came to the services and asked to release the silly kids. The elders were told that they would no longer see them. Moreover, agents told the elders to bring them their wives if they wanted to have more children.

The government had a chance to begin a dialogue with the local population. They had to punish the perpetrators for it. However, the perpetrators, according to local sources, only lost their positions. They were not even jailed. It looked as if the regime covered the dark and heinous acts of its fosterlings. And the people rose up in Dera'a.

Sooner or later, they have to pay for such actions. Many may probably recall the events in Hungary in the autumn of 1956, when rebellious people would capture state security officials and hang them on trees and lampposts.

However, there are much more recent examples from Syria, with its inherent local "flavor." The events in Jisr al-Shougour in early June 2011 is a bright example. The whole world could see cell phone camera videos showing local residents dragging disfigured, mutilated and eviscerated bodies of yesterday's Mukhabarat officers. In Syria, you can hear many stories about the atrocities committed by the Mukhabarat. Even the people loyal to the regime say that those atrocities were "wild."

Sergei Balmasov


Friday, December 23, 2011

French parliament passes Armenian genocide bill. was the Turkish Donmeh........

Now a crime in France to deny Armenian genocide. But is it a crime to accept the genocide as fact but state that it was the Turkish Donmeh, or crypto-Jews, all leaders of the Young Turks, who carried out the genocide of Armenian, as well as Greek, Christians? Or is that a breach of French anti-Semitism laws? Political correctness c'est fou a Paris.... And why does Cenk Uyger call his program the Young Turks? If he was German, would he call it the Young Nazis...?

Turkey is fuming over French legislation that would criminalize any public denial of what the bill calls the Armenian genocide last century in Ottoman Turkey.

"We are reviewing our relations with France," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said after the French National Assembly passed the so-called Armenian genocide bill. "We will take our measures phase by phase depending on France's behavior from now on.

Erdogan said Turkey is recalling its Paris ambassador for consultations to Ankara, is canceling bilateral visits, and won't cooperate with France in joint projects within the European Union.

"We are stopping all kinds of political consultations with France. We are canceling bilateral military activities and joint exercises from now on. We are canceling the permission granted annually for all military overflights, landings and take-offs. We are starting permission process for every military flight individually. From today on, we are rejecting the permission requests of military ships to visit ports. We will not attend and held the bilateral Turkey-France joint economic and trade partnership committee meeting that was planned for January 2012 under the co-chairmanship of the economy ministers of the two countries," Erdogan said.

"I am underlining this. This is the first phase."

The bill -- applauded by Armenians -- must now be voted on by the country's senate. Erdogan said he hopes the French Senate will vote down the bill.

"New measures will come to the agenda depending on the progress of the bill in France and we will apply them with determination without any hesitation."

Armenian groups and many scholars argue that starting in 1915, Turks committed genocide, when more than a million ethnic Armenians were massacred in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire.

But modern-day Turkey officially denies that a genocide took place, arguing instead that hundreds of thousands of Armenian Christians and Muslim Turks died in intercommunal violence around the bloody battlefields of World War I.

The genocide debate is an annual source of tension between Turkey and the United States, two NATO military allies.

The White House annually beats back efforts in Congress to pass a resolution which would formally recognize the 1915 massacre of Armenians as genocide.

"The issue should be researched not by politicians, but by historians," Turkish Parliament Speaker Cemil Cicek said.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told Turkish lawmakers Thursday that Turkey is a friend and ally of France and strives to maintain a dialogue.

Armenia's foreign minister, Edward Nalbandian, hailed the move, saying France "reconfirmed its high place of being the cradle of human rights and once again proved its commitment to universal human values."

"The French people showed that human rights are highest value, and today by adopting this bill," he said, indicating that crimes against humanity have no statute of limitations and deserve condemnation.

According to official Turkish statistics, the volume of trade between Turkey and France from January to the end of October this year was more than $13.5 billion....

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Witnesses to CIA and Bush drug smuggling muzzled.....

Witnesses to CIA and Bush drug smuggling muzzled.....

December , 2011 -- Amnesia defense and jail for elderly ex-dictator all to protect Bush drug links...

Sir Allen Stanford, the former Texas and Florida billionaire who owned Antigua-based Stanford International Bank and the global Stanford Financial Group before he was charged with bilking investors out of $7 billion in a Ponzi scheme, is pleading amnesia in his trial in the U.S. District Court in Houston. Stanford claims he does not remember anything before he became hooked on pain killers after he was beaten by another inmate in federal prison...

Meanwhile, ex-Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega is sitting in languishing in a Panamanian prison cell, not eligible for house arrest usually afford those who are over 70 years of age. Noriega was transferred from France, where he served a prison sentence for money laundering. Noriega spent 22 years in prison in the United States and France for drug smuggling and money laundering after being arrested by U.S. troops who invaded Panama in 1989. Noriega was captured after being granted asylum in the Vatican Apostolic Nuncio in Panama City, however, President George H. W. Bush, who ordered Operation Nifty Package, the military invasion of Panama and arrest of Noriega, ignored the Vatican chancery's diplomatic status when he ordered U.S. troops to apprehend Noriega on legal Vatican territory.

After several Panamanian banks were cited as laundering money for the Colombian cartels, the drug money launderers began to shy away from Panama. It was about the same time that Allen Stanford, chased from Montserrat after a crack down there on money laundering, moved his operations to Antigua, where he changed the name of his original Montserrat operation, Guardian International Bank, to Stanford's CIA International Bank....

CIA sources told us that Stanford's Antigua bank began laundering money for the Colombian and Panamanian drug cartels after it was discovered that the regime installed by Bush in Panama, headed by President Guillermo Endara and Vice President Guillermo "Billy" Ford, was deeply involved in drug money laundering using a network of banks in Florida that were, in turn, linked to Jeb Bush, Bush's son and future governor of the state.

Endara was a director of one such bank, First Interamericas Bank. His vice president, Ford, was co-founder of Dadeland Bank in Miami. Endara, a corporate attorney, represented Panamanian corporate tycoon Carlos Eleta, who acted as the go-between for a $10 million transfer from the CIA to the Endara-led opposition against the Noriega-selected presidential candidate in the 1989 election.

Eleta, who was arrested in the United States for drug smuggling, was released with all charges dismissed after Bush ordered the invasion of Panama. The New York Times was a champion for the Bush invasion of Panama and the arrest of Noriega. However, the paper was forced to eat crow when it was forced to run the following headline on June 12, 1990: "A Thin Paper Trail in Noriega Inquiry -- U.S. Finds Few Documents Tying Ex-Leader to Drugs."

The Spanish government asked the Endara regime to allow it to investigate over 100 companies in Panama suspected of laundering drug money for Spanish drug syndicate heads. Panama ignored the Spanish request. Endara also ordered his government not to cooperate with a U.S. Senate investigation of a shipment of weapons in 1989 by Israel's Mossad through Panama to the Medellin cartel in Colombia....

Noriega was arrested and imprisoned by the United States and France because of the knowledge he had of the Bush family's ties to CIA drug smuggling involving the two major Colombian cartels -- Cali and Medellin. In fact, the First Interamericas Bank, for whom the U.S.-installed Endara served as a director, was owned by Gilberto Rodrigues Orejuela, the leader of the Cali cartel. The bank also laundered money for Jorge Ochoa of the Medellin cartel. While the United States could never find any documentation linking Noriega to drug money laundering, for which he was sentenced to prison in the United States and France, it had ample evidence of the CIA and Bush connection to the Colombian cartels through the Panamanian and Florida banks. Other CIA banks in Florida that facilitated drug money laundering included Great American Bank of Miami, City National Bank of Miami, and National Bank of Homestead.

In 1982, Vice President Bush headed the presidential task force on drugs. In what could be likened to the fox guarding the hen house, Bush immediately began facilitating the importation of drugs to bolster the CIA's off-the-books slush funds for such operations as arming the Nicaraguan contras, feathering Noriega's nest in Panama, and dealing with the Cali and Medellin cartels. Jeb Bush was the main go-between for the CIA and the Nicaraguan contras who were funded with drug proceeds from key Cuban-Americans in Florida. A few military officers assigned to Bush's White House drug task force resigned in disgust when they discovered the true nature of Bush's drug running operations.

Two people alive today are intimately familiar with the Bush family's links to CIA drug smuggling, however, Stanford says he has amnesia and 77-year old Noriega is sitting in a Panamanian military prison unable to tell his side of the story to the world.

President Obama is comfortable with the status quo. Stanford was a major contributor to his 2008 presidential campaign, while Noriega may have some information on one suspected CIA drug money launderer, Donald Beazley, the president of one of the CIA-and Jeb Bush-linked banks in Florida, Colombian-owned City National Bank of Miami. The bank ultimately collapsed in a major fraud scheme. Beazley was also a principal officer of the CIA's drug money laundering Nugan Hand Bank based in Australia. Coincidentally, Madelyn Dunham, a vice president for the Bank of Hawaii for escrow accounts and hush-hush CIA payments to America's favorite Asian dictators, was aware of the Nugan Hand pay-offs and dubious other transactions. Dunham's grandson is Barack CIA Obama.....

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Was CIA behind attempted assassination of powerful oversight senator?

Was CIA behind attempted assassination of powerful oversight senator?

Add the name John Stennis to the list of many possible MK-ULTRA targets....

December , 2011 -- Was CIA behind attempted assassination of powerful oversight senator?

Sailors aboard the nuclear aircraft carrier USS John Stennis may be surprised to know that the person for whom their ship is named, Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John Stennis of Mississippi, ordered his committee to conduct a full review of the CIA's 1947 charter to prevent the agency from ever again engaging in secret wars, illegal surveillance as it did during Watergate, and political assassinations.... Stennis apparently agreed with his Senate colleagues who believed that the 1947 National Security Act, which created the CIA, was too vague...., hence the infamous White House Murder INC, in the Levant and Worldwide....

Stennis was also spurred into action by the revelation of a memorandum from Secretary of State George C. Marshall to President Harry S Truman, dated February 7, 1947, that urged Truman to think again about signing the National Security Act because the CIA, created by the act, would have "almost unlimited powers" and that the agency's proposed powers needed clarification. Marshall was concerned that the proposed CIA would exercise peacetime powers that would diminish the role of the Department of State.

Stennis was adamant about reviewing and possibly amending not only the 1947 National Security Act but also the 1949 CIA Act, which exempted the CIA from the limitations applied to other federal agencies in the expenditure of federal funds and permitted the CIA to keep its salaries, position titles, organization chart, and number of employees classified. Stennis and other senators also wanted access to National Security Council Intelligence Directives (NSCIDs), including the classified NSCID that created the CIA.

Senator Stennis, confident that he had gotten the CIA's attention, was on his front lawn entering his 3609 Cumberland Street, Northwest Washington, DC, home at 7:40 pm on January 31, 1973, when he was approached by two men who demanded the 71-year old senator hand over his wallet, gold watch, and 25 cents in change.... They then said, "Now we're going to shoot you any way." Stennis was struck by the first bullet, fired from a .22 caliber pistol, in his thigh and a second bullet hit his chest, close to his heart.
The two assailants, reported to be black by the police, fled and were never apprehended. Stennis crawled to his front door and his wife called the police. The news media dutifully reported, without any evidence to the contrary, that the shooters likely did not realize they had shot Stennis....

At first, doctors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center did not give much chance for Stennis surviving the double shooting but he miraculously pulled through. However, the momentum in bringing about a review of the CIA and its charter stalled in the Senate during Stennis's absence. Stennis's acting replacement, Stuart Symington of Missouri, was stonewalled by the CIA in getting access to classified NCSIDs.

There was an effort to derail the confirmation of William Colby as CIA director but that effort by liberal Democrats failed. Colby had been a veteran CIA clandestine services officer who met his own suspicious end in a canoeing "accident" on the Chesapeake Bay on April 17, 1996. One of Colby's CIA colleagues, Miles Copeland Jr., said that Colby had not come clean with Congress on the true nature and purpose of the MK-ULTRA program, which included using mind-controlled political assassins....

Only 13 senators, all Democrats, voted against Colby's nomination as CIA director on August 1, 1973. They were Majority Leader Mike Mansfield of Montana, Alan Cranston of California, Harold Hughes of Iowa, Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, Joe Biden of Delaware, Mike Gravel of Alaska, Philip Hart of Michigan, Floyd Haskell of Colorado, William Hathaway of Maine, George McGovern of South Dakota, and Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin.

While in the hospital still recovering from his gunshot wounds, Stennis said, "The experience of the CIA in Laos, as well as in more recent disclosures of matters here at home, have caused me to definitely conclude that the entire CIA Act should be fully reviewed...." and the infamous White House Murder INC, in the Levant, which assassinated Mr. Elie HOBEIKA January 24th 2002 in Beirut, makes the GWB team, a bunch of killers/assassins for hire....on behalf of Israhell.

U.S. scoffs at bio-assassination weapons when history proves otherwise.....
January , 2012 -- Bio-assassination weaponry used on Kim Jong Il....

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he was thinking aloud when he speculated that diagnoses of cancer affecting Latin America's most notable progressive leaders may have been the result of a U.S. plot through technological means. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland, the wife of neocon and Zionist foreign policy adviser Robert Kagan, immediately called Chavez's remarks "horrific and reprehensible."

However, the State Department may or may not be aware of what has been gleaned by WMR from Japanese intelligence sources in Pyongyang: that North Korea's late leader Kim Jong Il, who we previously reported was assassinated by rebellious military officers, met his demise from the use of a sophisticated bio-weapon. Kim Jong Il, whose only medical problems were periodic blackouts and the early onset of dementia, did not die from a heart attack, according to Japanese military intelligence sources. North Korean official news reports claimed that the late Dear Leader died from a heart attack aboard a train outside of Pyongyang. Neither of these reports was correct.

Kim Jong Il, while not in perfect health, was on a strict diet, exercised regularly, and was frequently examined by doctors.

However, the military coup plotters arranged for Kim Jong Il to be administered a series of doses of toxins. The toxins ultimately built up in Kim Jong Il's vital organs, causing renal failure and heart stoppage. The plot by North Korean military officers resulted from a major split over a secret deal made by some North Korean officials with Israel. The secret compact was for North Korea to stop missile shipments to Syria, Iran, and Egypt in return for Israel supplying low-grade enriched weapons-grade uranium to the North Koreans.

It is not certain what Chavez based his fears on, however, Cuba enjoys close relations with North Korea. Chavez cited a warning he once received from former Cuban President Fidel Castro, who, himself contracted a mysterious and almost fatal stomach disorder after visiting Argentina, that he should "take care. These people have developed technology . . . Take care of what you eat, what they give you to eat . . . a little needle and they inject you with I don't know what." Chavez went on to say, "It would not be strange if they developed the technology to induce cancer and nobody knew about it until now."

Progressive Latin American leaders, including Chavez, have recently been diagnosed with cancer. The latest to fall victim to cancer is Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who recently won re-election in a landslide. Others contracting cancer include Paraguay's President Fernando de Lugo, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, and former Brazilian President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva. Chavez said other Latin American leaders should exercise caution, including Bolivia's Evo Morales. Former Argentinian President Nestor Kirchner, Fernandez de Kirchner's husband, died from a sudden heart attack before running again for the presidency. Fidel Castro contracted an almost fatal stomach disease after meeting with Nestor Kirchner and Chavez in Argentina.

Castro's warning to Chavez about being stuck with a fatal needle comes from someone who was on the receiving end of such assassination plots. Tulane Medical School researcher Dr. Alton Ochsner, a friend of such notorious Latin American right-wing leaders as Juan Peron, Panama's Tomas Gabriel Duque, and Nicaragua's Anastasio Somoza, was known to be conducting CIA-sponsored research to develop weaponized cancers from monkey viruses. The prime target for such a weapon was NEVER Castro...., because he was a CIA recruit from his inception and his stint at Yale....

When it comes to U.S. bio-assassination weaponry, Chavez had the best source of information in Castro. Nuland and her neocon associates in the Obama administration and corporate media would rather ridicule the messenger, in this case Chavez, than in recognizing the fact that the United States is one of the few countries in history to conduct medical research for the purpose of assassinating perceived foreign and domestic threats including Castro; Congo's Patrice Lumumba; Iraq's Abdul Karim Qassem, Yugoslavia's former President Slobodan Milosevic; Jack Ruby, the slayer of Lee Harvey Oswald; and, quite possibly, U.S. ambassador to the UN Adlai Stevenson who died of a sudden heart attack in 1965 on a street in London located near the U.S. embassy.....

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Obama administration violates its own sanctions on Iran....

December , 2011 -- Obama administration violates its own sanctions on Iran....

U.S. Iran sanctions: importing Iranian pistachios and caviar illegal, export of weapons to Iran legal.

As the Obama administration prepares to unleash another crippling round of economic sanctions on Iran, including applying congressional legislation blacklisting the Iranian central bank, Bank Markazi, top congressional sources have reported to us that in May 2010, the Obama White House approved the lifting of sanctions for the state-owned Russian arms exporting firm, Rosoboronexport. The Russian firm was on a 2008 blacklist imposed by the Bush administration for selling nuclear and military technology to Iran. However, the Bush administration had conducted business -- buying 22 Mi-17s in a rush order for the reconstituted Iraqi air force -- with the Russian firm as late as December 2007.

The reason for the lifting of the ban on Rosoboronexport was the decision by the Obama administration to purchase Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters for use by U.S. special operations forces for "low visibility" operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The purchase of the Russian helicopters, facilitated by a circuitous deal involving the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program, the U.S. Army’s Threat Systems Management Office in Huntsville, Alabama; the sole-source contractor, Arinc, of Annapolis, Maryland; Arinc's Russian go-between, Air Freight Aviation, Ltd., a Russian firm in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, and Rosoboronexport, which manufactures the Mi-17s bought by the Pentagon in Ulan-Ude, the capital of the Siberian republic of Buryatia. Other Mi-17s are manufactured in Kazan, the capital of the autonomous republic of Tataristan.
It is noteworthy that some of the aviation firms owned by Russian arms merchant Viktor Bout, convicted by the United States of aiding Colombian terrorists and now imprisoned awaiting sentencing, were headquartered in Sharjah.

The Pentagon stated that the reason for the purchase of the helicopters from a Russian state firm that had been on a U.S. Treasury Department black list was that the program was "part of operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan" that required DoD to procure "Mi-17 helicopters, parts, and services and provide training in both initial skills and combined operations."

The delivery of 22 Mi-17s to Iraq was conducted jointly by the Multi-National Security Transition Command - Iraq (MNSTC-I) and the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. Eight of the helicopters were procured from DoD funds at $156 million and fourteen were procured with government of Iraq funds at $189 million. The 22 helicopters, according to the Pentagon, were delivered by the Russian manufacturer to "Air Freight Limited in the UAE."

The decision to procure Mi-17s for the Afghan National Army Air Corps was made by the U.S. Central Command. Thirty-one Mi-17s were procured by DoD for Afghanistan at a cost of $648 million. Eleven other Mi-17s were donated to Afghanistan by the Czech Republic and the UAE.

The Pentagon bought and delivered four new Mi-17s to Pakistan Army Aviation and loaned an additional six from inventory at Fort Bliss, Texas.

The Pentagon said similar programs to supply "priority" countries having legacy Mi017 fleets with new Mi-17s existed with regard to additional nations, for example, Yemen.

According to congressional briefing papers prepared by Robert Martinage, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict, the Russian helicopters were also procured to "provide a realistic 'opposition force' for U.S. training." In what may have been a clue as to future "opposition force" targets for U.S. special operations forces, the Mi-17 is used by the armed forces of North Korea, Pakistan, Syria, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Egypt, Laos, Indonesia, Bolivia, Myanmar, Belarus, Algeria, China, Cuba, Burkina Faso, Venezuela, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Eritrea, among other nations. Libya, under the Qaddafi government, also used Mi-17s.

The Obama administration and the Pentagon have not adequately explained why it is illegal for companies to financially facilitate the importation of Iranian pistachio nuts and Caspian Sea caviar while it is legal for once-blacklisted companies to export weapons to Iran....

Saturday, December 17, 2011

White ribbons come to China protests....The Soros/Rothschild/CIA plan plays out.

The Soros/Rothschild plan to seize the rest of the world begins in earnest.... The world needs to take a giant insectiside spray can to the Rothschilds, Soroses, and their minions.... China reacts....

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Soros/Rothschild/CIA plan plays out... Beijing Imposes New Rules on Social Networking Sites....

The Soros/Rothschild/CIA plan plays out... Beijing Imposes New Rules on Social Networking Sites....

BEIJING -- "Batman" star Christian Bale was roughed up by security guards who stopped him visiting a blind activist living under house arrest in China.

Video footage of the scuffle was shot by a camera crew traveling with the Hollywood actor as he promoted a film he has made in the country.

CNN posted scenes of the confrontation between Bale and the guards on its website Friday.

The run-in and publicity is likely to cause discomfort in China's government-backed film industry, which hopes Bale's movie "The Flowers of War" will be a creative success at home and abroad.

The star's actions are sure to focus attention on the plight of Chen Guangcheng, guarded around the clock by plain-clothed and uniformed workers who have blocked dozens of reporters and fellow activists trying to see him in the past.

Bale was to leave China on Friday and his representatives could not immediately be reached for comment.

Oscar-winning actor Christian Bale and his wife Sibi are escorted by security guards as they arrive for the premiere of the "Flowers of War" in Beijing on Dec. 12.

Bale, who won a best supporting actor Oscar for last year's "The Fighter," traveled Thursday with a crew from CNN to the village in eastern China where Chen, the blind lawyer, lives with his family in complete isolation.

They were stopped at the entrance to Dongshigu village in Shandong province by unidentified men.

'An inspiration'
The video footage shows Bale asking to see Chen, with a CNN producer providing interpretation, but being ordered by one of the guards to leave. He then asked why he was unable to pass through. The guards responded by trying to grab or punch a small video camera Bale was carrying.

"What I really wanted to do was to meet the man, shake his hand and say what an inspiration he is," Bale was quoted as saying by CNN.

Chen's case has been raised publicly by U.S. lawmakers and diplomats, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, all to no response from China.

CNN said Bale first learned of Chen from news reports when he was in China filming "The Flowers of War," China's official submission this year for best foreign language film Oscar.

"Chen Guangcheng is a newsworthy figure ... and as such it is in the interest of CNN's global viewers to hear from him," CNN said in a statement. "Mr. Bale reached out to CNN and invited us to join him on his journey to visit Chen."

Chen, a self-taught lawyer who was blinded by a fever in infancy, angered authorities after documenting forced late-term abortions and sterilizations and other abuses by overzealous authorities trying to meet population control goals in his rural community. He was imprisoned for allegedly instigating an attack on government offices and organizing a group of people to disrupt traffic, charges his supporters say were fabricated.

Although now officially free under the law, he has been confined to his home in the village eight hours' drive from Beijing and subjected to periodic beatings and other abuse, activists say.

While Bale's visit focuses new attention on Chen's case, CNN's role raises questions about activism and advocacy among reporters, said David Bandurski, editor of the China Media Project website at the University of Hong Kong.

"It made me instantly uncomfortable, wondering how it all came together. It raises questions about where the lines are drawn," Bandurski said.

Politically sensitive subject
The incident also drew strong interest — most of it highly positive — on social networking sites such as Twitter and its Chinese equivalent, Weibo.

Having their star's name pinging across the Internet in connection with such a politically sensitive subject puts promoters of "The Flowers of War" in a bind. The film opens in China on Friday and next week in the United States.

Directed by the renowned Zhang Yimou, it is also the most expensive Chinese movie ever made, at $94 million, some of which came from the state-owned Bank of China.

The movie centers on the 1937 sacking of the eastern city of Nanjing, a central event in China's pre-revolutionary "century of humiliation" and has been described by some critics as hewing to official propaganda portraying Chinese as heroic victims and Japanese as one-dimensional cartoon villains.

While China has the world's third-largest film industry — both in box office and output — it has made relatively little global impact. Story lines are often heavily influenced by the ruling Communist Party, whose culture commissars must approve scripts and have final say over whether a film gets released....

Beijing Imposes New Rules on Social Networking Sites....

BEIJING — Officials announced new rules on Friday aimed at controlling the way Chinese Internet users post messages on social networking sites that have posed challenges to the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda machinery.

For many users, the most striking of the new rules requires people using the sites, called microblogs, or weibo in Chinese, to register with their real names and biographical information. They will still be able to post under an alias, according to a report by Xinhua, the state news agency.

Some analysts say the real-name registration could dampen some of the freewheeling conversations that take place online, and that sometimes result in a large number of users criticizing officials and government policy.

The rule on real-name registration had been expected for several months now by industry watchers, and Internet companies in China had already experimented in 2009 with some forms of this. It was the ninth of 17 new microblog regulations issued on Friday by Beijing government officials, who have been charged by central authorities with reining in the way microblogs are used.

The regulations also include a licensing requirement for companies that want to host microblogs and prohibitions on content, including posts aimed at “spreading rumors, disturbing social order, or undermining social stability.” But officials have long put pressure on microblog companies to self-censor, and the lists of limits on content is more an articulation of the boundaries already in place.

The regulation announced by the Beijing officials only apply to companies based in the capital, where several of the largest microblog platforms, including Sina and Sohu, are based.

One large rival, Tencent, is based in Shenzhen, a special economic zone in the south, and an editor there said Friday that the authorities had yet to issue any new regulations that would affect the company. But analysts expect that that city and others across China will soon put in place rules similar to the ones announced by Beijing.

“It’s just a further sign of the way things are going,” said Bill Bishop, an analyst and businessman based in Beijing who writes about the Internet industry on a blog, Digicha. Some Internet users, he added, might now ask themselves “why bother to say something? You never know.”

There were many comments of outrage on Friday from those posting on microblogs. “Society is going backwards,” wrote one user by the name of Cheng Yang. “Where is China’s path?”

Many prominent commentators and writers with influence over public opinion already post under their real names. For example, Pan Shiyi, a wealthy real estate developer who posts regularly, has more than seven million followers. He recently used his platform to advocate for stricter air pollution reports from the Beijing government.

"In fact, serious weibo users have already opted to use their real names out of their own interests,” said another editor at Tencent who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of talking about government policy.

Internet companies hosting microblogs have been told to comply with the new rules within three months. Sina and Tencent each have more than 200 million registered users; it is unclear how the companies will go about ensuring that each user has registered with real data.

But Mr. Bishop said the technology was already in place and had been used by one large Internet company, Baidu, when it ran its own version of a microblog, which no longer exists. The registration information that users enter online can be matched up against a police database, he said.

Leaders here have long discussed how to better control the Chinese Internet, which has about 485 million users, the most of any country. Most vexing for officials has been the speed with which information can spread on microblogs. This year, several incidents highlighted the reach of microblogs, including posts that ignited mass anger over both the Wenzhou high-speed train crash and the hit-and-run death of a two-year-old toddler, Yueyue.

China has for years blocked Twitter and Facebook, and officials here carefully monitored the rebellions this year in the Middle East to see how they were organized and what role social networking sites played.

But Chinese officials also see the microblogs as useful. The sites allow people to vent anger, and officials can track posts to see the direction of public opinion. More and more officials are also being encouraged to use microblogs for propaganda and to mold discussions. Talk within the party about controlling the Internet accelerated after a policy meeting of the party’s Central Committee in October that focused on culture and ideology.

In the announcement Friday, Beijing officials said micro-blogs should “actively spread the core values of the socialist system, disseminate socialist advanced culture, and build a socialist harmonious society.”

Zioconned America Mimics Russia, China, North Korea and Malaysia....

Zioconned America Mimics Russia, China, North Korea and Malaysia....

Leading American Internet businessmen warn that the draconian copyright bill on the verge of being passed by Congress would let the US government use censorship techniques “similar to those used by China, Malaysia and Iran.”

If you want to know what the United States would look like after this bill is passed, just look at what’s been happening in Russia: The Russian government has been crushing dissent under the pretext of enforcing copyright law.

As the New York Times noted last year:

Across Russia, the security services have carried out dozens of similar raids against outspoken advocacy groups or opposition newspapers in recent years. Security officials say the inquiries reflect their concern about software piracy, which is rampant in Russia. Yet they rarely if ever carry out raids against advocacy groups or news organizations that back the government.


[A] review of these cases indicates that the security services often seize computers whether or not they contain illegal software. The police immediately filed reports saying they had discovered such programs, before even examining the computers in detail. The police claims have in numerous instances been successfully discredited by defendants when the cases go before judges.


The plainclothes officers who descended upon the Baikal Wave headquarters said they were from the division that investigated commercial crime. But the environmentalists said they noticed at least one officer from the antiextremism department, which tracks opposition activists and had often conducted surveillance on the group.


Baikal Wave’s leaders said they had known that the authorities used such raids to pressure advocacy groups, so they had made certain that all their software was legal.

But they quickly realized how difficult it would be to defend themselves.

They said they told the officers that they were mistaken, pulling out receipts and original Microsoft packaging to prove that the software was not pirated. The police did not appear to take that into consideration. A supervising officer issued a report on the spot saying that illegal software had been uncovered.

Before the raid, the environmentalists said their computers were affixed with Microsoft’s “Certificate of Authenticity” stickers that attested to the software’s legality. But as the computers were being hauled away, they noticed something odd: the stickers were gone.

In all, 12 computers were confiscated. The group’s Web site was disabled, its finances left in disarray, its plans disclosed to the authorities.

The police also obtained personnel information from the computers. In the following weeks, officers tracked down some of the group’s supporters and interrogated them.

“The police had one goal, which was to prevent us from working,” said Galina Kulebyakina, a co-chairwoman of Baikal Wave. “They removed our computers because we actively took a position against the paper factory and forcefully voiced it.”

“They can do pretty much what they want, with impunity,” she said.


Mr. Kurt-Adzhiyev said he now realized that the authorities were not so much interested in convictions as in harassing opponents. Even if the inquiries are abandoned, they are debilitating when they require months to defend.

Since the American copyright bills (SOPA and PIPA) target online activities, the same thing happening to Russian critics’ computers could happen to the websites of any Americans who criticize the government, the too big to fail banks, or any of the other powers-that-be.

Indeed, the American copyright bill is modeled after the Chinese system. :

Given that Joe Lieberman said that America needs an internet kill switch like China, that the U.S. economy has turned socialist (at least for friends of those with control of the money spigot), and that the U.S. government used communist Chinese torture techniques specifically designed to produce false confessions in order to sell the Iraq war, I guess that the bill’s Chinese-style censorship is not entirely surprising.

Of course, it might seem over-the-top to worry about copyright laws being used to stifle government criticism in America … if it weren’t for the fact that:

  • Some folks have alleged that copyright infringers are terrorists. See this, this, this and this
  • The U.S. government has been using anti-terrorism laws to crush dissent
  • In modern America, questioning war, protesting anything, asking questions about pollution or about Wall Street shenanigans, supporting Ron Paul, being a libertarian, holding gold, stocking up on more than 7 days of food, or liking the Founding Fathers may get you labeled as a suspected terrorist
  • We’ve gone from a nation of laws to a nation of men making laws in secret....

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Man of steel, Park Tae-joon...

Man of steel, Park Tae-joon...
By Yong Kwon

On December 13, a modern-day miracle-maker passed into history. His contribution to South Korea's epic economic ascension has been largely overshadowed by the legacy of president Park Chung-hee.

However, those who only see the achievements of the late dictator should note that without the tireless effort of another Park, the drive for economic development could have been scuttled at its very inception. The late hero's name was Park Tae-joon.

He was born in 1927 near the growing port city of Busan. In 1933, he crossed the Korea Strait to join his father, who had emigrated to Japan for better job opportunities. Excelling in school, he began studying mechanical engineering at Waseda University in 1945, but dropped out and repatriated to Korea at the end of World War II.

In the midst of the post-liberation political chaos, Park entered the Korea Military Academy and met Park Chung-hee, who was at the time a ballistics instructor. Park Tae-joon described his first encounter with the future president as having felt "like the chill of the morning air blowing through the front door". It was the beginning of a dynamic partnership.

After serving with distinction in the Korean War in the early 1950s, Park Tae-joon reunited with Park Chung-hee and served under him as his chief of staff. Praising his work ethic and obsessive perfectionism, then-Colonel Park Chung-hee described him as a "piece of iron".

The close bond between the two Parks was evident in the run-up to the 1961 coup d'etat. According to anecdotes, Park Chung-hee asked his former pupil to not participate in the military uprising so that he would be able to take care of the elder Park's family if the coup failed. Nonetheless, as Park Chung-hee's forces marched into Seoul early on May 16, 1961, Park Tae-joon was present at the headquarters of the anti-government forces, throwing in his lot with his superior.

This act of defiance firmly placed Park Tae-joon in the inner circle of the new regime, and he was soon elevated to a significant position in the Supreme Council for National Reconstruction, the new junta's governing body that paved the way for Park Chung-hee's Third Republic.

After helping design president Park Chung-hee's first Five Year Plan (1962-1964), Park Tae-joon turned from commanding soldiers to nurturing Korea's nascent industry. In 1964, he became the head of Korea Tungsten Company, forerunner of today's TaeguTec, and managed what was then one of a handful of frail companies that exported abroad.

As gifted of a soldier and economic planner he was, it was in the corporate world that the full extent of his skills became truly evident. President Park's economic planners decided that South Korea needed to achieve self-sufficiency in steel to establish the foundations of other industries.

However, the astronomical cost of constructing the infrastructure and the sheer magnitude of the project baffled many domestic industrialists. Was it truly feasible for a country with an individual per annum income of US$100 to engage in such a massive gamble? President Park turned to Park Tae-joon.

Park Tae-joon was also a deep believer in steel self-sufficiency, calling it the "rice of industry". In 1965, he began studying foreign steel industries, and by 1968 Park Tae-joon was travelling to various countries actively seeking the necessary funds and technology to begin constructing steel mills in South Korea.

Objectively, it was difficult for any organization to lend or invest the required vast sums to a hopelessly underdeveloped Third World economy. Summing up the sentiments of others, the president of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development told Park Tae-joon that it was too premature for South Korea to engage in such a high-tech industry and suggested concentrating his efforts in labor-intensive manufacturing. Turned down by the world, Park Tae-joon decided to turn to another source.

A few years' earlier, Seoul and Tokyo had signed the "Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea", with Japan promising millions of dollars in grants and soft loans to the Korean government. Park Tae-joon consulted with Park Chung-hee and persuaded him to divert a portion of the funds set aside for agricultural development to construct steel mills in the sleepy seaside town of Pohang.

It was extremely controversial. Bureaucrats in Seoul questioned his every decision and looked at the enterprise with doubt. Tokyo was also wary of changing the already agreed upon financial arrangements. Even Park Chung-hee disagreed with him on the level of government involvement in the would-be steel company. Nonetheless, Park Tae-joon managed to dog all his detractors into agreeing with his plan.

Recognizing what the funds represented, he made an ultimatum to his workers on the day that the steel mill construction began: "We are using the funds from Japan that contain the blood and sweat of our forefathers. If we fail to complete this steel mill ... let us all drown ourselves in the East Sea!" This was the beginning of the Pohang Iron and Steel Company (POSCO).

It was an endeavor on which South Korea's future was riding, and no one took the project more seriously than Park Tae-joon. Visiting the construction site, he wore his military uniform and carried with him a commander's baton. He considered military discipline to be essential; after all, he was jump-starting a nation's heavy industry in an empty field with people who had little to no experience.

The international community looked at the steel mill enterprise with skepticism. Japanese companies that provided the essential technology for steel-making doubted South Korea's ability to produce a competitive industry. Korean economists were also nervous - many already considered President Park's highway project a waste of public funds and the budget for the steel mill in Pohang was three times the entire cost of the Seoul-Busan highway.

In April of 1971, Park Tae-joon inaugurated the first steel mill, and by 1973 he surprised every detractor. POSCO laid the foundations for South Korea's shipbuilding industry, which began in pits dug in the beaches near Pohang. Within a few decades, South Korea was dominating the global share of ship-making, beating out Japan and Britain.

In addition, POSCO acted as the engine that drove forward the growing automobile industry, whose exports also gave momentum to South Korea's rapid economic ascent.

People began calling Park Tae-joon the Andrew Carnegie of South Korea - but this may be an unfair comparison. Carnegie built his steel mills in a country that already had the technological know-how and the industrial basis for creating the necessary infrastructure.

Park Tae-joon created the infrastructure out of brute force of will, and POSCO under his chairmanship produced 21 million tons of steel, nearly twice what Carnegie's mills produced in 35 years. By the time Park Tae-joon left POSCO's chairmanship in 1992, the gamble had turned into the third-largest producer of steel in the world.

His accomplishments had by the late 1970s already earned him a legendary status among industrialists. In 1978, while touring a steel mill in Japan, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping asked chairman Yoshihiro Inayama of Nippon Steel Corporation whether he could build a similar steel mill in China. Inayama replied that such an undertaking would be impossible because China did not have Park Tae-joon - to which Deng jested in return that he only needed to import Park.

On top of his industrial contributions, Park Tae-joon was acutely aware of the importance of educating future generations and established the Pohang University of Science and Technology in 1986 and the Research Institute of Industrial Science & Technology in 1987, both foremost facilities for education, research and development in South Korea.

After the assassination of Park Chung-hee in 1979, Park Tae-joon entered politics as a member of the National Assembly and became a crucial member in the coalition government that brought about both the Roh Tae-woo and Kim Dae-jung governments.

He was forced out of politics in 1992 under scrutiny from president Kim Young-sam over alleged corruption charges, which later turned out to be false. He returned to government during the economic fallout in 1997, working to resolve the economic crisis, and briefly served as prime minister in 2000 before being forced out over charges of real estate speculation.

Nonetheless, nothing so far suggests that he abused his deep connections in government or industry for personal gain.

Those who knew of him understood his significance - someone said of Park Tae-joon that "when Korea needed an army, he was an officer; when it needed to raise its economy, he was a businessman; when it needed a vision, he was a politician".

It would not be an overstatement to suggest that he embodied the political and economic transformation in South Korea since its founding. He lived life without a moment's breath wasted; many of his close colleagues said that the only thing hotter than the molten steel in the mills of Pohang was Park Tae-joon's passion, the epicenter of the industrial complex - and today his Herculean heart continues to forge South Korea's future.

He is survived by his wife, five children and a more prosperous country.

Yong Kwon is a freelance writer for Korean, Russian and Central Asian affairs.

Global Military Balance Shifts as Economic Winter Hastens Western Decline...

Global Military Balance Shifts as Economic Winter Hastens Western Decline...

By Dr. Jacob....

An eventual shift in the global military balance is one of the inalienable fallouts of the economic winter experienced by the Western world. While military spending in the U.S., the reigning super power, is increasingly coming under the scanner, the extended defense holiday in Europe signals that the continent's global influence is on irreversible decline.

Even as the U.S. and Europe tend to spend less on military, China, serious contender for the superpower status, is ramping up spending. Russia is aggressive in its defense strategy despite the fact that a weary NATO looks a lesser threat than before.

"With the eurozone economy still sluggish and governments fixated on containing the sovereign debt brushfire that has consumed three member states, defense continues to be an afterthought in Europe," Forecast International said in a media release.

The leading defense intelligence provider said it expects that total European defense expenditure will barely reach $280 billion by 2015. That amount will soon be dwarfed by the combined spending of China, India, the rest of the emerging world and the highly aggressive Gulf Arab nations.

Defense spending as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) paints a skewed landscape. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) data, the U.S. spends 4.8 percent of its GDP on military while China spends 2.1 percent. However, in terms of value, China's military spending has risen nearly 200 percent in the last decade to reach the 2010 spending of about $200 billion.

The U.S. could remain the undeniable military super power in the foreseeable future by virtue of its ability to funnel massive amounts of money into this sector. According to SIPRI, at $700 billion per year, the U.S. military spending is larger than the combined spending of the next 17 countries.

Europe pales in comparison. France and Britain, pre-eminent European military powers, spend only 2.3 and 2.7 percent respectively on defense. Germany's military spending is pegged at 1.3 percent while Italy spends 1.8 percent of GDP. Russia spends 4 percent of GDP on defense.

"Little in the near-term environment lends hope that a rethink toward defense prioritization is in the offing," says Forecast International. "Austerity programs are draining government ministries of funding and any reversals of this trend will first be felt in areas outside defense."

And the results are already visible.

Commenting on the NATO mission in Libya, the then U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in June that the vast majority of the military bloc's European members did not have the capability to carry out air attacks. "Frankly, many of those allies sitting on the sidelines do so not because they do not want to participate, but simply because they can't ...The military capabilities simply aren't there," Gates said.

Gates also issued a stern warning for the European allies, suggesting that if Europe didn't live up to its responsibility it would lose its position as America's favored military ally. "...if current trends in the decline of European defense capabilities are not halted and reversed, future U.S. political leaders-those for whom the Cold War was not the formative experience that it was for me-may not consider the return on America's investment in NATO worth the cost," Gates said, according to the Wall Street Journal.

While the U.S. still managed to spend a large share of its GDP on defense in 2010, the European members of the military bloc spent only 1.7 percent of GDP. According to IHS Jane's, Europe's military spending will decline even further in the coming years. It estimates that between 2010 and 2015, the military spending of the European members of NATO will decline to decline by 2.9 percent.

"The end result of the ongoing decline and flattening of already-limited defense allocations will be armies that struggle to project power, conduct training exercises, maintain combat readiness, and entice new recruits. Modernization programs will be postponed or forsaken entirely," Forecast International adds.

Dragon Moves up in Defense Pecking Order

According to the ZIOCONNED CIA World Factbook, Gulf Arab countries traditionally top the chart of military spending. As of 2005 Oman spent 11.4 percent of GDP on defense while Qatar and Saudi Arabia spent 10 percent. Israel's defense spending was 7.3 percent. Among emerging powers, India spent 2.5 percent while Brazil spent only 1.7 percent.

However, China's ascendance in the defense pecking order has been the most stupendous in recent times. Earlier this year, the Pentagon had warned that China's aggressive military build-up and modernization will make it a formidable power by 2020 and change for once and all the military balance in the Asia Pacific region.

In an annual report submitted to Congress, the Pentagon said though China was unlikely to wield global reach and match up to the U.S. in terms of the ability to handle high-intensity combat operations far abroad, it will become an unquestionable regional military power in the years ahead.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) is sprucing up its conventional military capabilities by developing better missile technologies. China is also well on course to developing its JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile. The Pentagon had calculated that JL-2 would be operational by 2010, but continued delays have hit the program to develop this lethal weapon.

"Most reports agree that the JL-2 will have a range of about 8,000 km, while some reports suggest that the missile will have an estimated range at least 9,000 kilometers," according to global

There were also reports that China would start building a fully indigenous aircraft carrier this year. If the program goes ahead as expected, China will have a second aircraft carrier by 2015.

China's stealth fighter, J-20, had created a lot of ripples in the defense world this year when it conducted its celebrated test flight. According to the Pentagon, the J-20 "highlights China's ambition to produce a fighter aircraft that incorporates stealth attributes, advanced avionics and super-cruise capable engines over the next several years."

Moreover, China is actively harnessing technologies to develop lethal space and counterpace capabilities. The Pentagon also has said PLA has set up "information warfare units" in a bid to gain upper hand in cyber warfare, the modus operandi of the future. The Pentagon report had pointed out that targets inside the United States had been victims of cyber attacks that took origins in China in the recent past.

In stark contrast, the images from the United States and Europe are less than upbeat. In August this year, the U.S. announced massive spending cuts in the defense sector as part of the debt deal unveiled by the White House.

The White House fact sheet said defense spending will be reduced by a whopping $350 billion in ten years, a decision that would deal a crippling blow to many of Pentagon's vaunted weapon programs.

The U.S. could be eying to cut down military spending in future by slimming down its nuclear arsenal and being choosy about weapon purchases, besides reducing personnel costs. There is also the risk of really big ticket projects like the aerial refueling tanker getting sidelined or slowed down.

And in Britain, the country's only aircraft carrier was decommissioned recently because of budget constraints.

Analysts say Europe faces the dire threat of becoming a fringe player if it continues to undermine the importance of sheer military power. "The shrinking of (defense) assets and degradation of capabilities happened over an extended period of time. Defense investment in Europe has steadily declined since the early 1990s as governments placed a premium on 'soft power' alternatives over military strength," says Forecast International's Europe Military Markets Analyst Dan Darling.

"Europe needs to summon the political willpower to strengthen defense or accept that out-of-area operations going forward will have to be limited in number and restricted in scope. There is already a finite capacity regarding further Libya-type operations, let alone a similar mission to the one still going on in Afghanistan. A decline in ability to project power comes with a decline in global influence. Such decline may be relative, but it is a decline nonetheless."....LOL the skewing by Zioconned Western World knows no bounds....LOL

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Oil in troubled waters; Caspian Ecology Teeters On the Brink....

Oil in troubled waters; Caspian Ecology Teeters On the Brink....
Science 18 January 2002:
Vol. 295 no. 5554 pp. 430-433
DOI: 10.1126/science.295.5554.430

As nations around the world’s largest lake bicker over oil rights, the wildlife of the Caspian Sea is in a state of siege from which it may never recover

ASTRAKHAN, RUSSIA—Lev Khuraskin stepped gingerly across the shoal, avoiding the dead seagulls and cormorants rotting in the sand and their squawking, orphaned chicks. The rail-thin biologist, his face leathered from decades on the sun-drenched Caspian Sea, crept up to a seal lolling near the water and straddled it, pressing his hand against the back of its neck to subdue it as a colleague skittered over to draw blood. Fit seals don’t like being messed with, but this emaciated and listless male submitted calmly. “It’s very ill,” says the team’s leader, Vladimir Blinov of VECTOR, Russia’s State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology.

The seal that lay dying on Malyi Zhemchuzhnyi Island is one of the latest casualties in the Caspian Sea’s unfolding ecological drama. Sturgeon, prized for their caviar, are hovering near enough to oblivion that three of the five nations around the Caspian’s shores—Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Russia—agreed last June to an unprecedented 6-month ban on fishing the species. Too little, too late, some fear. “The question is whether the species can be saved at all,” says Lisa Speer of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a nonprofit based in New York City.

Adding to the mounting horror of ecologists, Mnemiopsis leidyi, a comb jelly notorious for having devastated anchovy populations in the Black Sea, invaded the Caspian a few years ago. New findings suggest that this voracious free-floater has done a similar number on the Caspian’s kilka, or sprat, by “driving numerous species of zooplankton toward extinction,” says ecologist Henri Dumont of Ghent University in Belgium. Mnemiopsis is more bad news for the seals, which feed on kilka and are already reeling from epidemics of canine distemper virus in 1997 and 2000 that killed thousands.

If the Caspian’s wildlife only had natural invaders to deal with, that would be bad enough, but this lake—the largest in the world—is a pressure cooker of political and commercial forces. Ranged around its shores are the growing economy of Russia in the north and fundamentalist Iran in the south, with Muslim ex-Soviet republics in between. Both Russia and the United States are vying for influence in the region, a process accelerated by the war in nearby Afghanistan.

Complicating the picture are the Caspian’s vast oil reserves. The Soviets largely ignored this resource, but the newly independent republics are keen to exploit it. Production in the Caspian is expected to ramp up fivefold to 5 million barrels a day by 2020. “For the time being, there’s no proof that oil exploration or extraction will pose a major hazard to the Caspian environment—if it’s done properly,” says Arkadiusz Labon, a Toronto-based fisheries consultant who coordinated a major fish stock survey in the Caspian last year. However, he and others note, a major spill—always a possibility in this geologically unstable region (see sidebar)—could spell disaster.

Oil in troubled waters

Two millennia ago the Caspian was a sacred place for Zoroastrians, who would meditate at temples near jets of flaming gases that vented from the naphtha-rich sands of the Apsheron Peninsula, a nub of land jutting into the Caspian in present-day Azerbaijan. Later generations of Persians, still awestruck by the pillars of fire, recognized a commodity and by the late 1500s were scooping petroleum from shallow wells.

True development of the oil fields began in 1875 when Ludvig and Robert Nobel, brothers of renowned Swedish industrialist Alfred, bought up land near Baku. Boring deeper wells, they and their crew learned how to work Apsheron’s fickle semifluid sands. Oil production increased by 50 times over the next decade, reaching 1 million tons a year. When after a brief independence Azerbaijan was absorbed into the Soviet Union, the Nobels were out and central planning was in.

Although the Soviets discovered three giant oil fields in the Caspian basin, they left them mostly untapped. They found it easier and less costly to extract oil from their vast petroleum reserves in western Siberia and even went as far as banning offshore drilling in the north Caspian to protect the sturgeon’s feeding grounds and spawning migration routes.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, oil investments from the West poured into the Caspian, turning the region into a “Wild East.” But although oil exploration has not yet had a major impact on local ecology, the same cannot be said for fishers out to make a fast buck by harvesting the Caspian’s other precious resource: caviar.

Of fish and jellyfish

With their long snouts and ridged, scaleless bodies, the young sturgeon swimming circles in a glass tank at the Caspian Fisheries Research Institute here in Astrakhan look more like baby dinosaurs than fish. But having long outlived the dinosaurs since debuting in the fossil record 200 million years ago, the venerable sturgeon is facing its toughest test yet. The Caspian is home to the world’s biggest population of sturgeon. The sea’s four major varieties—stellate sturgeon, or sevruga (Acipenser stellatus), Russian sturgeon (A. guldenstadti), Persian sturgeon (A. persicus), and beluga (Huso huso)—supply about 90% of the total caviar harvested worldwide. It’s a lucrative commodity: As Science went to press, one firm, Tsar Nicoulai Caviar, was advertising sevruga caviar at $1448 per kilogram. Beluga roe, meanwhile, was fetching more than $2500 per kilogram. Russia alone says it hauled in $40 million last year from caviar exports, although some observers claim that the figure for legal exports was closer to $100 million.

The sturgeon’s enemies are legion, but poachers may be taking the heaviest toll. Last year they fueled a shadow caviar market estimated at $400 million, according to Russia’s Interior Ministry. Rampant poaching since the Soviet meltdown has sent sturgeon stocks crashing, with beluga numbers less than 10% of what they were 2 decades ago, the government estimates. Last year Russia began working with Interpol to try to crack down on smuggling, but most observers say it will take years, if not decades, to stamp it out. Other factors in the decline include dams on the Volga River that cut off access to spawning areas, and perhaps pollutants that accumulate in fat and may render eggs infertile. “The whole ecology of the rivers has changed,” says biologist Ellen Pikitch of the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York City.

Recognizing the seriousness of the situation, the secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) got three Caspian nations to agree to a 6-month moratorium on fishing sturgeon last June. Some experts contend that the ban, which ended on 1 January, did little good for the sturgeon, because it took hold after the main fishing season in the spring.

A recent census of Caspian fish corroborates that view. Last summer, the Caspian Environment Programme (CEP), a World Bank and European Union initiative, undertook a rare comprehensive survey of Caspian fish stocks. Over 6 weeks last August and September, the CEP team used sonar to chart and characterize fish populations everywhere but in the coastal waters of Turkmenistan, which did not allow access. Sonar is an imperfect technique, particularly for bottom-feeding fish like sturgeon, so the team captured and released fish as well.

Although the researchers are still analyzing their data, the emerging picture is dire indeed. “We found very few mature sturgeon,” says Labon. “That’s a sure sign of dramatic overfishing.” As expected, the team found ample young sturgeon, indicating that hatcheries in the Volga delta and Iran have averted total calamity. But the hulking fish are late breeders, taking years to reach sexual maturity. That means poachers and other fishers will be netting more and more juveniles in an increasingly frustrating search for caviar.

Soon a scene of the past?

Russians haul in sturgeon on the Volga delta near Astrakhan.


Labon argues that a 10-year fishing ban—without loopholes such as a permissible “scientific” catch—is essential to rescue the sturgeon from extinction. However, a total moratorium could backfire by driving the entire caviar trade underground, argues NRDC’s Speer. Her organization, for one, is campaigning for a ban on trade of beluga only, the most endangered species. It will make that pitch when the CITES standing committee on sturgeon meets in March to review this year’s proposed catch quotas. NRDC will also lobby the next conference of CITES parties in November to elevate beluga to the most endangered Appendix One list, which would ban beluga export from any signatory nation.

The sturgeon is not the only Caspian fish under siege; some other species are facing a more insidious, if spineless, threat. First sighted off the Iranian coast in 1998, the comb jelly Mnemiopsis within months had managed to swarm across much of the rest of the Caspian. The delicate, luminescent creature, looking more like a miniature starship than an animal, appears to have stowed away in the ballast water of ships in the Black Sea, reaching the Caspian via the Volga-Don Canal.

Based on the jelly’s voracious habits in the Black Sea, researchers expected it to gulp its way through the bottom of the Caspian’s food chain, grazing on zooplankton that are the staple of kilka and many other fish. Over the past couple of years, says Labon, professional fishers along the Caspian have been asking, “Where have all the kilka gone?” In Iranian waters, Ghent’s Dumont adds, “they don’t catch anything but jellies now.” The CEP fish survey spotted this decline. According to Labon, the survey found that kilka and herring populations “are severely depressed” compared to 2 years ago. His team is still crunching numbers to determine precisely how much these fish have declined.

A kilka crash is bad news for the fishing industry in Iran, where there’s a big market for the sprats. But for the beleaguered seals that feed on kilka, it could be a crushing blow.

Hunting a killer

It has been a tough few years for the Caspian’s seals. Two years ago, a mystery epidemic killed several thousand of them, including many young ones. A CEP seal ecotoxicology team, led by Susan Wilson of the Tara Seal Research Centre in Northern Ireland, and the VECTOR group—working independently—unmasked canine distemper virus as the likely villain (Science, 22 September 2000, p. 2017). When seals began dying in droves again last spring, both teams headed out to different parts of the Caspian to find out why.

Their preliminary, unpublished findings suggest that canine distemper is not the seals’ only foe. After sampling dead or dying seals washed up on the Apsheron Peninsula, Wilson’s team found that—unlike what they had observed in 2000—the victims were mostly adults. Analyzing tissue back in the lab along with samples from Iran and Turkmenistan, Wilson and her team so far have found no sign of canine distemper or any other virus.

Hard times.

The CEP ecotoxicology team’s Hormoz Asadi observes a seal on the Apsheron Peninsula. The comb jelly Mnemiopsis leidyi (top) may have abetted last year’s die-off.


Wilson’s team believes that pollution may be a contributor to last year’s die-off. The researchers are now testing their samples for levels of the pesticide DDT and other long-lived pollutants. Such chemicals are also the prime suspect in the seals’ plummeting birthrate, says Wilson. But she and her colleagues are pursuing other lines of inquiry, including bacterial infections and poor nutrition.

The VECTOR team’s findings add more intrigue. Blinov’s group says it detected a flu strain last spring, similar to one that jumped from birds into people in Hong Kong in 1997, in some of the dead seals they had sampled in 2000, as well as a nearly identical strain in a single sick seal in Russia’s Lake Baikal. “If avian viruses could overcome host barriers and infect humans in Hong Kong and cause pandemic outbreaks in seals,” says Blinov, “we thought, ‘What might occur tomorrow?’” Tests for virus in seals sampled last year on Malyi Zhemchuzhnyi Island are still under way, but they have come up negative so far.

That jibes with the CEP ecotox findings, but it fails to penetrate the mystery of where canine distemper is lurking, or whether the avian influenza that VECTOR spotted was a red herring or a continuing threat to the seals. Wilson speculates that canine distemper, at least, could reemerge in a couple of years. She notes that the evidence is looking more solid that distemper was behind a mass die-off in 1997 and may periodically afflict Caspian seals.

If canine distemper does resurface next year, the seals could be in for a double whammy. Both the CEP and VECTOR teams have reported that many ill or dead seals were underweight and some were emaciated, which may point to a food shortage. Wilson carried out a limited survey of seal feces collected on Apsheron last year and found that kilka appeared to make up only a tiny proportion of their diet, suggesting that the seals had to make do with less-nutritious prey. “We need to extend these diet studies,” Wilson says. But it does seem to bear the tentacle-marks of Mnemiopsis.

Dumont and other experts argue that steps must be taken quickly to rein in Mnemiopsis. After Mnemiopsislevels in the Caspian last fall exceeded those ever reached in the Black Sea, a scientific advisory committee called on littoral nations to approve plans to unleash a predator this spring to control the invader. Their choice was Beroe ovata, a heftier comb jelly that dines almost exclusively on Mnemiopsis. Beroe slipped into the Black Sea in 1997 and quickly brought the villain to heel. There, Mnemiopsis populations had plunged so low by last year that it was hard to find specimens for analysis. Beroe, says Dumont, “is almost too good to be true.”

Azerbaijan and Iran are pressing hard for Beroe to be introduced, but it’s unclear whether the other Caspian governments will climb aboard. Signs look unfavorable for agreement on something as contentious as biological pest control—no matter how benign Beroe would appear—when tensions are already running high over oil rights.

Political hardball

Like 49ers staking claims in California, the five littoral nations have asserted overlapping territorial claims in the Caspian itself. Last summer, Iranian gunships chased an Azeri research vessel out of waters claimed by both countries. A meeting planned for last October at which the countries had agreed to demarcate borders was abandoned after the 11 September terror attacks, although the leaders of Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are scheduled to visit Moscow later this month in part to revive the negotiations.

Eternal flames.

At the Surakhany Fire Temple, ancient Persians meditated on Baku’s perpetually burning hills, including the Kirmaky gas seep (top).


The Caspian nations are playing hardball because their oil is considered a major prize by Western powers. The newly independent states could act as a counterweight to OPEC, because the Caspian oilfields would greatly augment the few reserves—including Siberia and the North Sea—not controlled by the Middle East-dominated cartel. Caspian oil “can offset [OPEC's] efforts to keep prices high and their use of high prices for political dictates,” says Brenda Shaffer, research director of Harvard University’s Caspian Studies Program.

Apart from Russia, the three countries with the largest Caspian reserves—Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan—have welcomed alliances with the West, which they think will help them convert their black gold into cash and limit Russian influence in their affairs. Beyond oil and gas, the region is important to the United States, which “needs to develop friends like Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan in the Muslim world, due to their clear separation of religion and state,” says Shaffer. Russia, meanwhile, has bolstered its sphere of influence by strengthening ties with Iran and forming alliances with other ex-Soviet littoral states.

Sound like a powder keg waiting to be lit? Quite so, says Terry Adams, a senior associate at Cambridge Energy Research Associates and founding president of the Azerbaijan International Operating Company oil consortium: “The seeds of future Caspian conflict were planted early.” And with an international effort to safeguard the Caspian’s ecology nowhere in sight, the lake itself can only suffer in the process.

Science. ISSN 0036-8075 (print), 1095-9203 (online)

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